Monday a.m., I got a cab to take me as close as he could to Madison Square Garden for an early interview on Tavis Smiley’s show on PBS. Close turned out to mean outside all the barricades and roadblocks at about 31st and Fifth. Not too bad. My special pass got me through every police barrier, block by block, and there were again lines of policemen, firemen, and equipment both sides of the streets. I didn’t realize that the NY police could look as much like a massed army as it does. Some of them even march in platoons. Looks to me like a lot of hot, sweaty work for these guys and gals (yes, solid numbers of women police weighed down by uniforms and belts). My sympathies are with them. And, yes, they were quite friendly and helpful.
Inside Madison Square Garden, by way of the door the police who looked at my pass directed me to, I had to go through detectors and then have my pass read electronically. And then follow well-marked signs and friendly motions by legions of greeters up nine flights of escalators, then one stairwell to the tenth floor, and along one hallway (past the CNN and FOX tv booths), until I came to the PBS booth. What great views of the convention center and stage from up there! Of course, we’re all used to such views from conventions past, but still it’s a little dizzying when you feel its actual height, looking straight down ten floors.
Clarence Page is on the air with me, and I know him from campaigns past. He remembers my RISE OF THE UNMELTABLE ETHNICS (1972), and kindly recalls that when he was starting out in Chicago it gave him subject matter for a lot of lectures. We feel like old, old veterans in the presence of a young star like Tavis Smiley and his young eager staff.
I forgot to say that on the way up, coming down a ramp toward me from an interview, or perhaps on his way to test out the microphones for his big talk tonight, was Senator John McCain. He was in a good mood, and at the top of his form, although possibly a little pale with fresh tv make-up. When political leaders are getting up for a big moment, they get a glow about them.
I really like Madison Square Garden. It is a truly great place.